"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see." (Hebrews 11:1, MSG)This paraphrase by Eugene Peterson has been near the forefront of my mind for the past few weeks. In part because I have recently preached sermons from this text at both Asbury Theological Seminary and Spring of Life UMC, but mostly because of its meaning to me as I have been reflecting on my seminary experience.
When I began seminary in June 2009, I had no idea what I was doing. It's probably safe to say that a good number of those closest to me felt the same way...including my wife. I know this to be true because when cleaning out a drawer in my bedroom last night I came across a letter from her stating as much (a letter neither one of us remembered she had written). All I knew was that the compliance job in financial services that I had wanted for so many years was no longer satisfying and this constant tug on my heart that God wanted so much more from (and for) me wouldn't go away.
Today I am incredibly grateful that the "tug" won. What I couldn't see then turned out to be the most formative and fulfilling experience of my life.
Last Wednesday night at 11:15, I submitted my final seminary assignment. Ever. I sat back in the chair at my desk, exhaled a huge sigh of relief, and felt lighter. I looked at Lenora sitting on our bed typing away at her laptop and thought, "I need to go over and thank her for supporting me. I couldn't have done this without her or the kids." But when I got to her, no words came. I fell into her lap and wept. Literally. Consumed by an unexpected wave of emotions. Joy, sadness, relief, exhaustion...you name it, I probably felt it.
145 assigned books read.
153,671 words of my own theological reflection.
The affirmation I received at the graduate dinner Friday and the commencement on Saturday worked together to show me that the hard work was worth it. Then again, positively responding to God's grace always is. Seminary began as something that totally cut against the grain of what I thought my life would look like and it required more trust in God than I thought myself able to muster. But it turned out to be first-hand evidence to this truth by Corrie ten Boom:
"We should never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God."What God has done in my life these past four years is more than enough to forever warrant my faith and trust with my future. Thanks be to God for His calling, His provision, and a life worth living.